Parents receive leaner report cards this year |

Parents receive leaner report cards this year

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado
An example of the in-depth report card Eagle County elementary school students bring home.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Traditional report cards full of As, Bs and Cs are a thing of the past for Eagle County elementary schools.

The school district is rolling out new, more streamlined report cards this year for elementary students. Like last year, they’ll grade students based on several Colorado state standards as opposed to broad, single-letter grades in math, reading, writing and science like most adults received as children.

Instead of seeing just an “A” in math, parents of a third-grader might see their child receive a “3” in fractions, a “3” in basic number concepts and operations and maybe a “4” in estimation. The numbers correspond to a 0 to 4 grading scale, which tells parents if a student isn’t understanding a subject, if they’re close to understanding, if they’re proficient or if they’re surpassing what’s required from the state.

What’s different this year though is the size and detail on the report cards. Last year, report cards were actually too specific, said Heather Eberts, director of elementary education. The report cards were three pages long and graded students in more than 70 different areas.

Anne Heckman, principal at Brush Creek Elementary, said at this time last year, teachers were in a panic trying to figure out how to fill out the report card, and parents were upset because many didn’t understand the process.

Now, the report cards have been condensed to one page, but they still are full of information.

“This new version is easier to understand and very straight forward,” said Anthony Barela, principal at Red Hill Elementary. “The teachers think the system is more user friendly also, which makes it a win-win for all parties involved.”

This isn’t the first year the school district has used report cards with number grades based on state standards, as opposed to letter grades. The concept can still be a little confusing to generations of people who grew up with letter grades.

But what did it ever really mean to get a “C” in math class? Compared to these report cards, a “C” doesn’t tell you much. It doesn’t tell you what specific things a student understands, what they don’t, if they get fractions, if they get division, if they struggle with decimals and how close they are to understanding it.

Now, grades are more represenative of the things teachers are supposed to teach in class. A third-grader in reading class will be graded on how well he understands what was read, how well he finds themes, how well he learns vocabulary and how maturely he analyzes what was read.

“If those are the things we are required to teach, that’s what we should be reporting to parents,” Eberts said.

The other goal is to have teachers at all schools grading the same way.

Before the schools started using these standards, there wasn’t as much consistency from one elementary school to the next. For instance, one fourth-grade teacher might be reviewing basic multiplication in her class, and another fourth-grade teacher might be teaching multiplication of three- and four-digit numbers, so an “A” in each of those closes wouldn’t really mean the same thing.

“Back then, I could decide what I wanted to teach in my classroom, and my scoring didn’t have to match with anyone else,” Eberts said.

Now, teachers have a scoring guide for every subject seen on the report card. The scoring guide tells them what exact skills a student needs to show in order to be considered proficient.

“We know that when they leave our district, no matter what school they come from, we’ve provided this level of education that’s consistent,” Eberts said.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or

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